17-year-old Need Job. What and How?
November 10, 2012 10:22 AM   Subscribe

My teenager would like to find a job. What are the best resources for finding a job for a 17-year-old high school graduate in Montreal? How about New York?

Teenage boy would like to find a job. He has no experience working. His English writing is not superb and his French is not that strong.

What sort of jobs could he qualify for, and how would he go about getting them?

He likes the idea of telemarketing -- he's outgoing and articulate. Is that plausible?
posted by musofire to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In NYC right now, a 17-year-old who doesn't know anyone will have a really, really tough time getting a job. Most jobs that 17-year-olds would generally take are occupied by either people in their early-20s who are having trouble moving up, or grown adults who have made a career of what others would consider an "entry level" job.
posted by griphus at 10:32 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Even stuff like prep cooking in fast food places is done by adults whom managers would rather employ than 17-year-olds, because they're less flaky and much more dependent on the job, and therefore do a better job of it. Getting a job bussing/waiting on tables/etc. requires that you know someone who is already doing it because no restaurant manager will hire someone with no NYC restaurant experience sight unseen and without someone they trust vouching for the new guy.)
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2012

Best answer: If he presents well, is friendly and upbeat he will be hired at the Cineplex theatres in Montreal. They are always looking for staff who are very friendly and right now they are ramping up staff for the holiday season like crazy. Experience means nothing, personality and availabilty are the most important things. Though he would have be be willing to work 6pm to 11pm on weekends and through the Christmas holidays.
posted by saradarlin at 10:41 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest just having him apply to anything even remotely palatable. Even if he doesn't end up liking it, it will accomplish a few things: 1. he'll know he doesn't like x traits in a job -- not necessarily "I don't like working as a waiter/dishwasher/telemarketer/whatever" but "I don't like jobs that require me to have a very high level of face-to-face interaction" or "I don't like having to try and sell things to people who don't want them" and 2. it's easier to find a job when you have a job... or at least a job history.

Oh, and make sure he knows that even if he doesn't end up liking a job and wants to leave, to stick it out for long enough as to not look questionable on his resume or to not leave until he has another job secured. Don't burn bridges with managers/coworkers too.
posted by jorlyfish at 10:42 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Telemarketing is indeed plausible, especially since it's one of those jobs where you work on commission, so the person who hires you has little to lose. Canvassing works the same way. When I was an unconnected, inexperienced New York teenager I canvassed door-to-door for SANE/FREEZE; older colleagues said the best canvassing gig was Greenpeace, who are apparently still going strong.
posted by feral_goldfish at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2012

Oh! That's right! In NYC he can get a job harassing people on the street with a clipboard for donations. They'll hire basically anyone who can do it, and specifically prefer energetic young people. Just make sure he signs up with one of the less disreputable places.
posted by griphus at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2012

When I was 17 and moved out of my parents house and didn't go off to college, I got a job as a telemarketer. I hated it but then I'm not good at sales. And I had friends my age who did well there. So it's totally plausible. Other jobs at that age included, with no skills or training: bookstore clerk, ice cream vendor, homeless shelter attendant, bartending (illegally), waiting tables (legally) and barbacking (??), as well as junior paralegal/legal secretary work.

As a longer strategy, since he's chatty and personable, he should look into real estate brokerage, both commercial and residential. (Particularly commercial!) It has very few barriers to entry, and you don't have to be smart or very verbal. You just have to be persistent and decent with people. And you can make a hell of a lot of money, and you never need to go to college. He could apprentice to get a start. Knowing what I know now, if I could do it all over again, I would have thrown my hat into office leasing and, you know, retired by now probably.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 12:35 PM on November 10, 2012

I don't know specifically about getting a job in Montreal or New York but I think a friendly, articulate 17 year old could definitely compete for a job in retail. I held tons of random entry level jobs and the ones that were the least distasteful were at bookstores. It's frequently boring but I was literally surrounded by books and had opportunities to talk with others about books.

All of the times I was hired by bookstores were during their busy seasons - beginning of the semester for the bookstore on campus and at the start of the holiday season. There should be plenty of upcoming openings in retail for the holidays.
posted by kat518 at 4:40 PM on November 10, 2012

Bugging people with a clipboard does not pay enough for room and board and utilities in New York. The people who do it are either kids "in the system" living in group homes, or kids whose parents can afford to subsidize their rent and food.

Retail wages for entry-level folks aren't likely to provide him an even barely comfortable living in New York. Most of the young retail workers in New York are still living with parents.

Telemarketing in New York can be cyclical; jobs come and go because of the high cost of doing business there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's incredibly expensive to live in New York, even for college graduates, master craftspeople, building tradespeople, and other folks with more marketable skills than the average 17-year-old high school grad. And a lot of jobs that would be entry-level there are being done by experienced folks as their second or third job because the cost of living is so high. If a diner's looking for a part-time waiter, the 28-year-old guy who's already working as a busboy at Gramercy Tavern is going to get the job over all the "this would be my first job" teens.

Why does your son want to start out in New York, which is a horrible city to be broke in? (I imagine Montreal may be the same way, but have never lived there.) The glamour of living in a big city is hard to enjoy when you're scrambling to make rent. It isn't like the old days of punks in Alphabet City, where you could find a crummy apartment to share for cheap.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:20 PM on November 10, 2012

How much longer until he's 18? Most pubs in downtown Montreal and the western part of the island will hire busboys at 18 with pretty much nothing but a strong back and a good attitude. It's great money, too, but can be long hours.
My Anglo friends all seem to have done the telemarketing thing at one point or another, with experiences ranging from mostly positive to horrible. Get a recommendation from a friend if possible; some places are very very bad to work at.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:28 AM on November 11, 2012

Response by poster: To clarify, I'm not worried about him supporting himself. I'm just trying to coach him into a job. He has parents in both cities.

Is there hurricane cleanup work in New York City?
posted by musofire at 4:33 PM on November 11, 2012

All of the hurricane cleanup work that I've seen around here is volunteer and not paid.
But actually, volunteering isn't a bad way to get work experience and good things on his resume.
If he does want to come to NY and can get a job canvassing or telemarketing, please encourage him to volunteer as well.
posted by rmless at 7:00 AM on November 13, 2012

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